A few days ago a thread began on NCI’s membership discussion list based on a question posed by a customer to an NCI-trained and certified Performance-Based HVAC Contractor.™
As the contractor offered to test the customer’s system so he could propose the correct equipment installation, the customer asked, “What are you trying to sell me?”
As you can imagine, many posts ensued, each explaining what they would have said, with some saying that no matter what, some customers just won’t get it.
Having been focused on testing and delivering measured performance for more than 25 years, I’ve personally never met a single homeowner who just didn’t get it. In fact, just the opposite: they usually get it so fast, it’s incredible. Whether standing in line at a restaurant, interviewing potential employees, or talking to a service vendor — every time I explain that we teach how to solve hot and cold spots, indoor air quality issues, and safety concerns, they almost all immediately say, “You need to come to my house!”
Every time I explain that we teach how to solve hot and cold spots, indoor air quality issues, and safety concerns, they almost all immediately say, “You need to come to my house!”
So far in 25 years, I’ve batted a thousand in eliciting this response. Just last week I was interviewing a cybersecurity expert and when I described what we teach, he immediately went into a 10-minute tirade about how the master bedroom in his 5-year-old home was cold in the winter. He went on about all the comfort, air quality, and energy issues they had, and asked if I’d come out to take a look. My 25-year streak remains intact!
Is this because I’m such a great salesman? Not even close. The answer is I don’t sell, I educate customers. When you offer solutions to problems that virtually every home has in common, there is no need to “sell them” on anything. Let your results do the talking, and let the customer decide what they want done about it.
Since I don’t have room here for the detailed, step-by-step process, I’ll give you the Cliff’s Notes version on how to get residential customers to allow you to test and buy the solutions you recommend.
There are three key elements to this process:
First: lead generation, second: in-home consultation, and third: verification that the solution was delivered, and the subsequent referrals the solution leads to.
1. Lead Generation. There are two major ways to generate performance-based leads. One is to market your company as a problem-solver. The other is to market to existing customers. The best time to perform and offer further testing is when your techs are already in a home. By taking system vital signs and asking a few questions, you can quickly assess long-standing comfort problems. If done correctly, your service techs can set up subsequent appointments with a comfort consultant who can do further testing and help the customer identify the best options for his or her situation.
2. Home Comfort Consultation. There are two types of new customers: The first is one looking for solutions to their home comfort issues. That’s the easiest conversation. The second is a typical customer getting “replacement” quotes. This one’s a little trickier, but if done correctly, can dismiss your box-quoting competition. They key is to ease into testing by getting permission each step of the way. For example, instead of just telling the customer you need to drill holes in their ductwork, explain that to provide the best possible solution, you need to install four test ports, so you can take key vital signs of their system. After getting consent, measure the four key static pressures, and follow through with questions about their comfort, IAQ, and utility bills.
3. Deliver On The Promise and Generate Referrals. Finally, once you test and provide your customer with options, they will likely buy a solution from you. If done right, they will become one of your biggest fans, and tell all their friends and relatives about what you did for them.
Is this an easy “silver bullet?” Absolutely not. To make this work consistently, you must invest in ongoing training, tools, and implementation processes to smoothly integrate performance into your business model, and transform your company from “box seller” to Performance-Based Contractor™.